As we Atelier students walk off into the sunset (Sophie and Carolyn will take the route through the FitzRandolph Gate--congrats!), we will leave this blog, and this class, with fond memories. The Lewis Center asked us to do a write-up of our experiences in ATL/ENV/THR 496.
This is excerpted from what Erin had to say. The emphasis is all mine:
I expected to be involved in the production as a consultant to its effectiveness, someone evaluating the art for its scientific (i.e., persuasive and environmental) merit, and in that respect my expectations were not met – though I realize now that, in some hypothetical universe in which they were met, the play would have been essentially finished at the beginning of the semester, thus (for better, worse, or neither in particular) exposing the Atelier’s students to a different phase of the playwriting process. Instead, I informed the themes of conservation psychology that ran through the play itself by contributing dramaturgy and feedback on the script, in addition to throwing my environmental and ecological knowledge into the pot of various class collaborations and discussions. At the outset I somehow missed that conservation psychology was not the means to the end of the play and its effect on the viewer: it was part of the end itself, part of the play’s texture meant for the audience to consciously confront and consider. When I think about theater’s audience – probably consisting largely of that huge chunk of Americans who are environmentally conscious in theory, but not so much in practice – I realize this is a better approach, not just artistically, but scientifically, too. The more the artist can get the audience thinking deeply about a subject – consciously, deliberatively, as one would contemplate a theme in a piece of art – the more likely that subject is to penetrate to the core of that person, not just stick around for a few fleeting moments before wafting away. Theatergoers, generally speaking, are thoughtful people. So my expectations on this count were happily left unmet and, through learning and doing, exceeded.
From my response:
I would characterize the first few weeks of the course as my environmental boot camp: I got up to speed on what we were talking about, and I was given a few odd research assignments (getting permission to use the YouTube video of the snakehead fish that was ultimately used in the performance was definitely an early highlight of my research). When rehearsals rolled around, and I got to go into New York...I finally felt as if I had a sense of what it was I was doing, and I felt very useful doing it. Learning about the environment didn’t hurt, either. It’s amazing how much a twelve-week class (plus rehearsals) can get under your skin.
So there we have it. If over the next months we come across something that needs to be on this blog, we will add it. Until then: thank you.